Citizens rallied outside the William J. Nealon Federal Building calling on congress to secure the border in Scranton, Pennsylvania earlier this week.
Lozano v. City of Hazleton opened for day 7 in the case.
The case is whether the city of Hazleton, Pennsylvania's Illegal Immigration Relief Act, which can pull the licenses of business that hire illegal aliens and fine landlords who rent to them, is constitutional.
The plaintiffs closed their case by calling Hazleton Police Chief Robert Ferdinand. Ferdinand was called on day six for 3 hours of testimony and spent 4 hours on the stand today.
The plaintiffs also submitted depositions of four unnamed plaintiffs to the judge as evidence. US District Judge James Munley had ruled earlier in the case that certain plaintiffs would not have to testify in person because of “exceptional circumstances”. Attorneys for the plaintiffs said that the four could be illegal aliens and face deportation or retribution from the city if they revealed themselves.
Illegal Alien Crime In Hazleton
Hazleton Police Chief Robert Ferdinand once spent a year in Mexico as an exchange student and said that it had proved quite helpful to him as police chief, though he admitted his Spanish had gotten rusty over the years. Ferdinand contained most of his answers to the plaintiffs attorney's questions to simple "yes" and "no" for the majority of the testimony, but later became frustrated and even combative and sarcastic.
He went into detailed description of the crimes that have occurred in the city over the past few years attributed to illegal aliens and that the criminals have become emboldened and started carrying heavier weapons.
The murder of Derek Kichline took center stage, a crime which prompted the city to start looking into putting in place an ordinance to combat the growing illegal immigration crime and gang problem. Kichline, described by Ferdinand as a "regular guy" was shot and killed on May 10, 2006 in his car by four men who were all later identified as illegal aliens. There was community outrage over the incident.
Of the four arrested, one had a stolen birth certificate from a home invasion where the owner was stabbed. Another had been previously arrested in New York City for charges, including attempted homicide, and has ties to the gang the Latin Kings. A third used aliases, as many illegal aliens do, and cost the police time in tracking down his true identity.
"You spend a great amount of time looking for a fictitious name,” Ferdinand said.
Gangs On The Playground
Another incident on a playground involved a 14-year-old illegal alien, who was affiliated with the gang The Bloods, shooting guns on a playground. The incident occurred the same day as the Kichline murder. Ferdinand said a 22-caliber and .380-caliber weapon were involved and two baseball bats, a sword and a golf club were found hidden at the playground. He said that there were also two shots fired into the air by young men riding in a car.
The 14-year-old has since been deported, but Ferdinand said he was recruiting other kids at his high school by flashing money and talking about the power of being in the gang. During questioning police noticed something in his mouth and found he was hiding crack cocaine under his tongue.
Ferdinand said that there are 6 known gangs in the city, including the Dominicans Don’t Play, and that since the May 2006 incidents even more are carrying guns and other weapons and are willing to use them. A lot of them are selling heroin and cocaine.
"we might be one [crime] short of that magic number where it becomes a problem.”
Plaintiff's attorneys continued to attack the crime statistics submitted by the police, which showed a low number of identified illegal aliens. Ferdinand stated that they only have recently began noting the immigration status on the records and therefore the numbers supplied to the plaintiffs don't show the true story.
Finally getting fed up at them Ferdinand burst out.
“I think you make a valid point,” Ferdinand said sarcastically “I think we might be one [crime] short of that magic number where it becomes a problem.”
“After this, I’m going to go see Mr. Kichline (Derek’s father) and tell him we don’t have a problem and that his son wasn’t killed because of an illegal alien,”
Plaintiffs questioned him on why the city didn't participate in the 287(g) program, provided by the Department of Homeland Security, which trains local police in identifying illegal aliens that are being held in prisons. Ferdinand said that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been a great help to the city over the past two years, rating them 11 out of 10, but with 7 of the 30 police force members on extended sick leave he couldn't spare any officers for the program.
How Many Illegal Aliens Live In Hazleton?
The question that plaintiffs have been asking since day one has been "How many undocumented immigrants live in Hazleton?" They've used it over and over as they grilled witnesses, including Mayor Lou Barletta.
Apparently they didn't want a real answer to that as they objected to two witnesses called by the city.
Center For Immigration Studies
First was Steven A. Camarota
, director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, D.C.
Camarota used national census data to estimate that Hazleton has between 1,500 and 3,400 illegal immigrants living in the city. He arrived at the estimate by also examining the number of students in English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, which school Assistant Business Manager Robert Krizansky told him was 770 students. Since receiving that number though the district has updated the figure as of March 14 to 1,004 students.
Camarota said that Hazleton is subjected to a substantial financial burden because of the large population of illegal aliens and that cities like Hazleton get hit the hardest because of their tax structure. Hazleton runs off of an "earned income" tax structure, not a "sales tax" model. Camarota estimated that 50 to 60 percent of illegal aliens are paid “off the books” and therefore taxes aren't withheld.
“The rest are paid under the table?” Judge Munley asked.
Plaintiff's attorney Denise Alvarez, of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, argued that Camarota's method is flawed and made too many assumptions by basing Hazleton numbers on national statistics. She also argued that ESL enrollment is not a good basis for his conclusions since legal immigrants and citizens use those classes as well.
Illegal Aliens Cost The City Money
Back on day three of the trial Mayor Lou Barletta said that as the population of the city has grown by 50%, revenue from taxes has remained flat, a fact which shows that many of these newcomers are not working or working "under the table" and not paying taxes.
Kris Kobach, Hazleton
When questioned by Kris Kobach on this fact Camarota replied “That’s exactly the kind of pattern you would expect to see,”
Camarota said that illegal aliens cost the federal government an average of $2,700 in government services than they pay in taxes, but he estimated that illegal aliens cost the state and Hazleton an additional $5,000 in services they use than they pay in taxes each year.
When questioned on how certain he was that illegal aliens are draining the city of Hazleton's budget, Camarota said “I have no doubt. I’m 100 percent,”
Both attorneys responded to the fiscal costs at the end of the day.
Plaintiff's attorney Denise Alvarez said Camarota was “playing with numbers and didn’t have any basis for the information he’s given us.”
Hazleton attorney Kris Kobach said that “[Camarota] established very clearly that the fiscal burden to state and local governments is huge. … And Camarota is the national expert on demography concerning aliens both legal and illegal,”
Four Hour Waits At The Emergency Room
Camarota also pointed out that 65 percent of illegal aliens don’t have health insurance, so they use emergency rooms for primary care when they need health care. Under federal law a hospital cannot refuse someone at the emergency room. He said this accounts for the reported four to five hour waits at the Hazleton General Hospital emergency room. When questioned by Judge Munley on how the other 35 percent obtained health insurance Camarota said through their spouses, jobs or by actually buying it.
FAIR Takes The Stand
Jack Martin, FAIR
Plaintiffs, through attorney Foster Maer
of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, once again objected to Hazleton's next witness called, Jack Martin
of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), calling him an advocate, biased and not an expert witness. I'd just like to point out that the plaintiffs called Marc Rosenblum on day four
, someone that - after some digging I did - I'd call an advocate as well since he helped author Senator Ted Kennedy's Senate amnesty bill last year and has shown a clear bias in favor of legalization.
After an hour of stalling by the plaintiffs, Judge Munley allowed Jack Martin limited testimony.
Martin testified for 10 minutes on the rising cost of housing illegal aliens in prisons. He also said that while the federal government reimburses prisons, the payments only cover a fraction of the costs. In addition he pointed out that illegal aliens pose more of a burden because legal immigrants are screened for criminal history before being allowed into the country, so there is a higher percentage of illegal alien criminals.
Martin said Pennsylvania incarcerated the equivalent of 500 to 700 illegal immigrants per year in 2003. For Luzerne County that year, the most recent data available, the figure was the equivalent of 11 years.
My Take On Day Seven
Once again this trial has totally ignored the whole point of the case. While it is true that illegal aliens burden our communities with crime, gangs and costing taxpayers millions, the point of the case is the constitutionality of the Illegal Immigration Relief Act. A fact that seems to have been totally ignored by both sides in this case and the judge.
The plaintiffs also managed to waste another hour of Hazleton's Legal Defense Fund on arguing over whether Jack Martin should be allowed to testify.
With the plaintiffs in the case resting I'm really not seeing how they made their case that the act is unconstitutional. Sure they've argued that illegal aliens are nice, decent people and pointed out the failures of the city to prepare to enforce the ordinance, but I don't think they've really made a clear case as to exactly how it is against the Constitution of the United States.
We do have to remember though that Judge Munley is a Clinton appointee and he quickly slapped the restraining order on the city so they couldn't enforce the ordinance once it passed, so I'm pretty much thinking that he's on the plaintiffs side.
This trial will wrap up on Thursday or Friday of this week.
Be sure to check out the recap of the other days of coverage in my Hazleton Archive
Hazleton needs funding. You can donate to their legal defense fund at Small Town Defenders. Their case could set the stage for reduced illegal immigration throughout this country, so donate today!
Hazleton Standard Speaker:1 2 3; Republican Herald: 1; Times-Leader: 1 2